Tuna Tar-Tart

I suck at everything. Probably more than you do. I enjoy experimenting with cheese and playing with glue sticks. You might know me from that other joint, LiveJournal.

May 162022
 

I don’t even know where I am in this damn spring break wrap-up anymore. I covered the most important topic: IRON GWAZI. So now let’s just take a relaxing stroll down memory lane, look at pictures, dip out now if you want, stay if you please. EITHER OR.

Dude, I’ll tell you right off the bat that BGT has A LOT of coasters and luckily they were all running so Chooch got a full sweep of coaster creds. Coaster in the first picture up there is Kumba. It was OK but old. I liked the secluded area it was in though – that was cool. And this was a walk-on.

Through that opening resides what is quite possibly my favorite B&M invert, Montu. I never really cared much for inverts until I rode Great Bear at Hershey, and then I had a REALLY GOOD night ride on Banshee at King’s Island. THEN I rode After Burn, which is one of the few saving graces (in my book, you guys, not trying to start a park war here) at Carowinds. That was actually my new #1 until Montu.

Then I rode Raptor for the first time this past weekend since 2019 and decided that inverts are actually one of my fave coaster types now I think.

I even love Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg but mostly for the theming. That one is SO ROUGH and hurts my back but the theming is killer.

But back to Montu – it was one train ops so we had to wait for about 30 minutes which was actually kind of long on this particular day when you consider that we had walked on Kumba, Sheikra, and Tigris. (OMG speaking of Tigris – the family next to us in the station was in front of us two days prior in Sea World when we were in line for that fucking Atlantis water ride that broke down; Chooch is the one who pointed them out because he allegedly the teenager daughter’s shoes. Mm.)

(I mean OK maybe that was the case!)

Shit son, Montu was fucking incredible. When we were rolling back into the station, Chooch and I just looked at each other with our eyes in the universal widened O’s of WOW. “Did that just become my favorite B&M invert??” I screamed in Henry’s face when we reunited with him and he tried to play along but Henry isn’t as WITH IT when it comes to coaster types and manufacturers as me and Chooch are. Just so you know.

Also, Henry hates inverts because he has poor taste.

Oh shoooot, this was a fun family coaster! Cobra’s Curse, I think? And also the cause of the one sole fight that Chooch and I had that day. The wait time was posted as 45 minutes, because it’s a family coaster. Chooch wanted to ride it anyway which is astounding considering he’ll be the first one to go OH HELL NO when the wait is anything longer than 20 minutes. Boy hates waiting. I mean, I’m not so sweet on it either. But he is way worse and will complain like an old man in desperate need of a prune.

All I said, “I want to ride this too but MIGHT WE go and get lunch first before we all start to get hangry?” and that was all it took. He got all bent out of shape, and then I got pissed at him for being pissed at me, and Henry was like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING” so I said, “OK fine you spoiled brat, let’s go get in line” and now suddenly Chooch “didn’t care anymore” and kept walking in the opposite direction so I said, “Well, I’m going to ride it” and stormed off so then they both had to turn around and follow me. I got in the queue first, but Chooch caught up and then we proceeded to not talk to each other the whole time, which ended up only being 20 minutes anyway, and the line was inside so it was nice to be in the shade, and then somewhere along the way we forget that we were giving each other the silent treatment and started talking to each other again and had a wonderful ride on Cobra’s Curse, thank you very much.

It was spinning coaster AND it had a creepy elevator lift!!

THEN we went to eat. We had another meal voucher thing and this one place had the Impossible Burger so that is where we went except that, even though it wasn’t even the height of lunch time anymore, the line was almost out the door. Where had all these people come from?? The park was barely crowded! The problem was that there were multiple different food places but nowhere for the individual lines to go, so everything converged into one long line until you got to a point where you could break off and go where you needed to be, but those lines were actually way slower-moving. Like, slow-motion slow. There was one lady behind the burger counter and she was taking her good old time. And you know what? Couldn’t even really be mad. I’m certain the park was understaffed causing everyone there to be overworked and she even said several times, “I’m exhausted.”

I mean, we waited longer just to get to the counter than we did on ANY ride there that day.

And the worst part was that when Chooch and I got there, there was only one Impossible Burger left and she was like, “Can you wait a few minutes?” so I was prepared to forfeit my lunch and eat later if I needed to, so that Chooch could have the last Impossible Patty standing, but she was like, “You really want to eat this?” she said, picking it up with two pinched gloved fingers. “It’s been sitting here for a long time. I wouldn’t feed this to me DOG.” So then I was like, “OMG fine, we will wait for fresh Impossible patties then” so we had to stand off to the side. Now we had front row seats to watching this lunch lady assemble burgers for her customers and it was E X C R U C I A T I N G. Like, my skin was twitching because I wanted to hop the counter and help her.

Anyway. It took about 5 minutes for our patties to come out but then we had to watch her attempt to build them into totally unappetizing burgers-with-fixins and she messed up like two times. Sweet baby Jesus, it was an exercise in patience, but there was a group of college kids in front of us who had also suffered, so when we went from that line to the long ass beverage and check out line, we all bonded over our traumatizing experience. I like being a part of something like that with strangers! Henry wasn’t a part of this portion of the lunch line so he wouldn’t know. But we all shared a bonding moment when one of their friends, still in line to pay, needed a water refill at that point and was having a crisis over having to stand in the drink line again so we were all like “JUST SQUEEZE IN AND FILL IT UP!” I was like, “You gotta rehydrate after being in this line for so long!” and Chooch turned himself inside out with the forceful eye roll he gave me.

It took us so long just to get to our table – somehow Henry beat us, even though he struggled with the cashier he got stuck with who kept trying to charge him for things even though he had a voucher. I wasn’t hungry when we first got there, but now I was literally chewing on the inside of my mouth so I practically inhaled my SUPER TERRIBLE BLAND Impossible Burger. Literally just tasted like a really cheap original Boca Burger. I  mean, I wasn’t expecting much from what was basically a glorified cafeteria, but the fact that it was JUST COOKED – like, I WATCHED the cook as he was cooking it and then cook-walked it on over to the tray behind the glass – made me think that it would at least be semi-edible. I guess it did have a lot of time to cool off and get mushy while we were standing in the beverage line from hell.

Even worse than this was the SUPER CRINGE acapella group that came out while we were eating. They made my stomach hurt, honestly.

Aside from the 10-minute spat with Chooch, this was the only negative part of the whole day. And it was a LONG ASS DAY because we had to drive about 90 minutes each way so  that’s saying a lot!

Cheetah Hunt is one of the most popular coasters in the park and I was really looking forward to it! It’s an Intamin multi-launch coaster and as you well know by now if you’ve had the endurance to get through these word-salad disaster posts, this trip was very Intamin-heavy. That being said, if we had started with BGT, I think I would have loved this way more than I actually did. It was fun, don’t get me wrong! I loved how unique and long of a ride it was – a really great family coaster and honestly something that I think would be really cool at a park like Kennywood. I don’t see Kennywood every getting an RMC or B&M, but an Intamin multi-launch family coaster would be awesome!

Henry was on the train after us (he was too busy fucking around with a locker and we didn’t wait for him so he had to get in line alone. This was the theme of this trip lol). Chooch and I were also in the front row too so don’t go patting Henry too hard on the back!

It’s actually built next to the actual Cheetah area which is cool but I still don’t understand how those animals could actually be unbothered by thrill rides going off all around them. :/

Sheikra was a really great dive coaster, and that’s saying a lot because I don’t really care too much for this type of ride. I loved the layout and the whole area of the park it’s in.

A HIPPO! We watched this big guy cool off in the water for a really long time. Hippos are cool.

BUT DEADLY.

Overall, we had a wonderful time at Busch Gardens Tampa. Iron Gwazi is KING, Montu is PRINCE, and honestly pretty much everything else was solid except for maybe Scorpion which was a bit too old school for me. But, it’s a Schwartzkopf and only one of three remaining in the world so even though I don’t count coaster creds like Chooch does, I had to ride it. It wasn’t as terrible as I expected, but I wasn’t trying to ride it again.

In case you were wondering.

We left right around the time the park was closing (8pm), took the TRAM* back to the parking lot and then journeyed back to Orlando. It was relatively uneventful. We stopped at a gas station for snacks to eat in lieu of dinner because we are super great at vacationing.

*(NOW I WANT TO GO BACK TO WILDWOOD, HENRY ARE YOU READING THIS, WATCH THE TRAM CAR PLZ IT’S UP YOUR BUTT**.)

**(My standard response to everything Henry asks is, “I dunno, up your butt?” because I’m a 13-year-old in 1985.)

Stay tuned for the last two parks of Florida, which we did on the same day so maybe I’ll try to squeeze everything into one post but probably not because my blogging endurance is dwindling in my older age.

May 152022
 

We spent the weekend at Cedar Point for Choochs belated birthday…event? Celebration? I dunno what you want to call it but he didn’t want a party so we told him to invite a friend to take to cedar point for the weekend.

BEFORE: we were getting ready to leave Saturday morning around 7am. Henry was loading stuff into the car or doing otherwise boring dad shit. I had just been outside feeding the squirrels and left the front door open as I’m wont to do because our cat Drew likes to roll around on the porch and be close to all the nature-y things.

Suddenly (갑자기), Chooch yelled, “THERE’S A BIRD IN THE HOUSE!” I thought he was joking but NO there was a small sparrow (maybe?) all scared and fluttering around the house. Drew, Miss Hardcore Bird Hunter, was suddenly NOT SO TOUGH now that her prey had invaded her turf. She was like THE FUCK IS THIS while I ran around trying to get the bird to fly out a window. After about a minute, it flew out the still-opened door just as Henry was coming into the house to assess the sitch after hearing us scream BIRD IN HOUSE.

Drew the Brave had slunk off onto the back porch by then, just as Penelope came flying down the steps, looking super alarmed with a “WHAT DID I MISS” expression on her precious face.

“You and Drew almost had a new roommate!” I laughed.

Nothing else to report on that. THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE.

AFTER: We had a really fun day at the park. Chooch and Zakk were hungry because they didn’t spend their money on food as suggested/recommended (we bought them lunch!!) so we went to this diner/family restaurant/greasy spoon called Dianna’s. We went there once last year after Cedar Point too.

Henry and I weren’t hungry but decided to get pie AND OH MY WHAT A GREAT DECISION.

Ok so you know that me and my luck with cream pies is a crap shoot. When I heard that butterscotch pie was an option, I ordered it because my MOMMY used to make butterscotch pie when I was growing up and it was to die for.

I immediately had ordering regertz because what if it tasted like nursing home food?

IT DID NOT. My god, it was wonderful. Even Chooch, upon stealing a forkful, gasped an appreciative, “Oh!”


Henry and Chooch got coconut cream and BUCKEYE, respectively. Henry’s was excellent – my preferred kind of coconut cream that isn’t too pudding-y and has actual coconut shards in it – but Chooch’s buckeye was the CLEAR WINNER. I loved my pie but when I tasted his, I did have ordering regertz then.

Our waitress was wonderful too but she had to leave us at 10pm because she had to be back at 8am. She made sure all of her tables knew this detail of her life.

Oh and Chooch’s friend Zakk ordered chicken Alfredo after contemplating which burger he wanted. Kids are funny.

Then it was time to go back to our rooms at the SEA CREST, a family-run motel that Henry has been trying to get us to stay at since 2019. The first time, we pulled into the parking lot and I said “oh hell no” and we went to a chain hotel WHICH WAS ACTUALLY TERRIBLE and cost much more. So this time I let him have his way since we needed two rooms.

You know, it was actually fine and out of all the places we’ve stayed at recently, it gave me the best nights sleep somehow.

I just had to lean into the Sam & Dean Winchester aesthetic.

Henry kept screaming about how all the reviews were great, and everyone said it was clean AND THATS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

It actually was clean. It smelled like the 1970s but I surprised myself by being ok with it.


Wood paneling? Check.

Strange ceiling tiles and off-off-off-off brand of toiletries? Check.

Vintage rattan lampshade thing?? CHECKITY CHECK CHECK CHECK.

1950s Filing Cabinet Olive Green hues in the bathroom? Ch-ch-ch-check!

Creepy single middle-aged man for a neighbor who was outside of his door smoking every time we came and went? YOU FUCKING KNOW IT.

(Sorry, no picture!)


Man Born in the 1960s art installation? CHECK PLZ.

Here’s a bonus picture of my donut from this morning because it perfectly matched the color palette of the room.

Anyway, Henry wants to stay here every time now and I think I might actually be ok with it??!! It was QUIET and aside from being a living time capsule of the 1970s, it actually was a quality deal. There I said it. Henry and THE REVIEWs were right.

May 132022
 

This week was one of the slowest weeks I’ve experienced in forever. I kept thinking it was the next day, almost every day. Maybe it’s because I went into the office twice, I dunno, but yesterday in the office felt like the longest work day since before the pandemic. Megan said it was because we didn’t get to go out for a lunch break walk and she’s probably right. It was also a lot of socializing and I am still so exhausted, like I have a chatting hangover. It was…a lot. I think I’ll stick to my one-day-a-week routine, thanks.  The older I get, the more I learn about my extremely fickle social preferences and one of those is that I definitely prefer 1-on-1 chats.

Anyway, the rest of the week was same-old. Here are some fivers on my mind(ers). Please do be enjoying.

  1. Slushie Standoff

Chooch has really been going through it at work lately, to the point where sometimes I forget he’s only 16 because he comes home SOUNDING LIKE ALL OF US. Valid gripes, training woes, stupid people rants, managerial clashes.

The latter is what brings us here today, my fine blog-eyeballers. Because when Chooch came home from work Monday, practically foaming at the mouth as he angrily recounted his night, I thought of YOU, DEAR READERS, and how much I wanted to tell you this story.

OK so there is new-ish manager at McDonald’s. We’ll call him FRED for the purposes of this story. Now, FRED and Chooch have been butting heads for a few weeks now, it seems. In Chooch’s words: FRED came from BURGER KING, where things are done DIFFERENTLY so now he thinks everyone at McD’s is doing it WRONG and he’s fucking shit up, essentially. Like, sit down FRED, amirite? Now Chooch has told me a whole collection of maddening stories so far, like FRED telling him he’s in the way (“when it’s actually FRED’s big ass that’s in the way, but cool” Chooch spat the other day), and at one point Chooch purposely told some other co-workers that he doesn’t respect FRED, knowing it would get back to FRED because hi, teenagers.

(This cracked me up because it reminded me of when I worked with ELEANOR as some of you might remember. Her strategy was to lodge complaints to the snitches in the department knowing full well they’d go scampering TO THE OFFICE with these bread crumbs of employee unrest. She killed me.)

(I mean, not literally, I’m still here. Although we did have a fight over scissors one night which could have gone terribly awry.)

“Did FRED find out?” I asked.

“Yeah! He cried about it to [another manager] but she didn’t give a shit!” Chooch laughed.

At work on Monday, someone came thru the drive-thru and ordered three blue slushies. According to Chooch, their machine is wonky but the work-around is that you have to defrost it or something, who cares, I was zoning out when he explained it – Chooch takes his job very seriously. So, FRED does not know this fix and was struggling. Instead of helping him (because anytime Chooch tries to help, FRED tells him he has an attitude problem and calls him YOUNG BUCK), Chooch just stood there and watched with delicious anticipation.

FRED, now realizing this was going to take a bit, told the car to pull over and he’d bring them out.

So then he finishes the blue slushies, leaves them at the machine, and goes out to the car to tell them that they were done and he’d bring them out.

“Wait, but if they were done, why didn’t he just take them out with him then?” I asked a la Fred Savage being told a bedtime story.

“Exactly! Because he’s a moron,” Chooch said.

While FRED was out there doing a questionable attempt at customer service, another car came through and ordered a blue slushie. So…Chooch (being Chooch) took one of FRED’s slushies and gave it to them.

BECAUSE CHOOCH WOULD.

Now, FRED is back inside expecting to collect THREE BLUE SLUSHIES. Here, Chooch pantomined FRED counting the slushies and going ballistic. “WHERE IS THE THIRD SLUSHIE?? I HAD THREE SLUSHIES!!”

Chooch calmly told him that he gave it to another car.

“BOY, DON’T BE GIVING AWAY FREE SHIT!” FRED shouted.

“I didn’t. They paid for it,” Chooch said in the only way Chooch knows how: full of teenage arrogance and heavy on the sarcastic monotone.

Then FRED told another manager that he was taking his break because he needed to get away from “that kid.”

He reminds me SO MUCH of me when I was a young worker person.  

(Sorry, I love this ^^^^ story so much that I will take any chance I get to link back to it!)

Anyway, Chooch was going to put in his two weeks notice today and then just get a new job when he comes back from Mexico in August but then he said, “What will I do with myself for all of June??” so I think he’s going to stick it out for now. I gotta hand it to him – he genuinely enjoys working. Thank god he got something good from his dad!!

     2. Chooch Ran Away

I made Henry go for a walk with me after dinner since I missed my afternoon walk. Look, I’m an addict, OK? I’m a food-phobic, exercise-maniac, walking-addict. Do I need therapy? You bet. Do I care? Not currently.

Anyway, now that I got that honest confession off my chest, I dragged Henry around Dormont for a walk. He got to stop and get cold brew at Dunkin’ so he was mostly content. (I almost typed “sedated,” and I guess that too; dude practically sleep-walks through life.)

We got home and 10 minutes or so passed. I wanted to tell Chooch something so I ran up to his room and started banging on his door with FIRE ALARM vigor like I normally do, which normally causes him to hiss, “WHAT DO YOU WANT” but this time – silence.

I yelled, “I’m coming in!” and when I burst through his door like a firefighter, I found it empty. HE WAS GONE.

“Chooch ran away!” I screamed to Henry as I came barreling down the steps. He of course ignored me because I was making this way too dramatic and it wasn’t worth the energy.

“He’s probably riding his bike somewhere. It wasn’t in the basement when I was just down there,” Henry mumbled, probably cruising the listings for some auction site that he is OBSESSED WITH lately and it’s so annoying.

Then I got caught up watching roller coaster videos on YouTube (my visual Snuggie, OK?) and forgot that my child was gone. I mean, he’s 16. He comes and goes as he pleases.

He burst through the front door about 20 minutes later and I was like, “Oh. It’s you” and he was like “I saw [friend from elementary school] but didn’t say because my face is so numb.”

Now my mommy-panic was activated. It’s always during times of bodily harm that I’m catapulted into Mom Mode. Yes, it’s alarming even to myself. “OMG why!? What happened??” I screamed.

He just started at me. And then, slowly, “Because I was at the dentist….”

OMG THAT’S WHERE HE WAS! I totally forgot that he had an appointment. Good thing he remembered and that he’s able to take himself there via bicycle because Henry and I SURELY didn’t remember while we were out gallivanting around Dormont like two non-parents.

And that’s my story about how Chooch ran away, straight into the dentist’s chair.

3. Baby Buddy & Bambi (aka Drew)

Are you sick of hearing about my squirrels? OH WELL probably everyone at work is too, to be honest. We have a new lady on our team and every Tuesday I’m like DAWN LOOK AT THIS VIDEO OF MY SQUIRRELS and she’s like “*nervous laugh* oh jeez.” Anyway, look at Drew, that unbothered queen.

 

4. RiverPOUNDS

OK that makes no sense, but let’s roll with it.

Today one of my coworkers asked me if I had plans tomorrow and I said YES’M I AM GOING TO CEDAR POINT and she was like OH OK because apparently she had won some Riverhounds tickets (THAT IS A PGH SOCCER TEAM IN CASE YOU ARE FROM LIKE, OTTAWA, AND DON’T KNOW) and had planned to take her niece and nephew but they have prior commitments so now she’s trying to find people to go with her and I’m sure I was not the first person she asked but THANKS FOR THINKING OF ME.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that way back in like 2000, I quit my job that summer and then babysat the two daughters of one of my ex-co-workers. The older one, ERICKA, was such a biotch, I fucking swear to god. Like, the highlight of that summer for me was when she went away to some church camp and I only had to deal with the younger girl for like a week and that was fine because she was sweet but as I’m typing this I cannot believe that anyone trusted me to watch their kids ALL DAY LONG when I was 21 and a total irresponsible moron and not only that but they let me drive them places in my EAGLE TALON which I drove like a fucking race car and I took them to places like THE SOUTHSIDE which was still cool back then and full of punks and other boho types.

Then Ericka came back and was inexplicably obsessed with the song HOOKED ON A FEELING and asked me who sang it and then proceeded to not believe me even though I know everything about music but cook on little middle school bitchdemon.

Wow, I really hated her. My brother was in the same grade as her I think. I about to text him to see if he knows what she’s up to now that she’s like 30.

Oh wait, my point!!

So Ericka played soccer and I was always having to take her to her dumb practices at Mowry Park. There were some Riverhound players at one of the practices and I guess it was a big deal but I had no idea we even had a soccer team (maybe it had just formed at that time?) so I was not impressed. But the reason why I remember this is because this was the day I was sitting on the side of the field and ERICKA came over at one point and apropos of nothing other than the fact that it was true, bluntly said to me, “You really need to lose weight.”

I WAS WEARING AN ORANGE SHIRT THAT DAY TOO AND NEVER WORE IT AGAIN THANKS YOU DUMB BITCH.

So my point is that every time the Riverhounds come up (which is periodically because our Firm is always giving out tickets it seems, I think we’re a sponsor probably), I can hear that brace-faced bitch telling me I’m fat IN SO MANY WORDS.

5. THE CARPET MAN

You guys. Henry found my fake poem collection in the attic, in a binder, printed on old-school see-through printer paper with light gray type. I was so excited!! I went through a heavy fake poetry phase in 10th grade because my friend MELISSA/MARTHA/POPTART was actually serious about writing poems and kept a poetry notebook in her bag at all times, so I, being the BULLY OF A FRIEND that you all know to me, decided that I too would be a poet. I even gave myself a pen name – EMERALD – which two entire teachers began calling me when I asked them to (my 9th grade english teacher Mr. Gershna and one of the gym teachers MR ROSENSTEEL, loved both of them).

Anyway, my friends mostly thought this was so dumb, except probably Janna who enjoyed being the subject of many poems, such as the JANNA IS READING A BOOK TRILOGY. But my favorite was the FIVE POEM SERIES spawned by the fateful time my mom took me to HUGHES FLOORING to pick out new carpet for my bedroom and I imprinted on THE CARPET MAN, but not in a romantic sense for myself, but moreso in that I was orchestrating a grand imaginary romance between him and my mom.

Then of course I borderline stalked him, even making my friends Keri and Ken drive me to the carpet store for literally no reason other than I wanted to cachinnate all over the carpet samples and then choke on my idiocy.

Anyway!!! No one understood why I was so fixated on him but I just was and it gave me so much joy to scribble out stupid “that’s a real stretch” poems about him. Having this back in my life inspired me to google him and I think the found the obituary for his mom!!! :(

I thought it would be super hilar to make a little chapbook dealio for my mom for Mother’s Day, since the Carpet Man series happened because of her. I made the background of the cover and every page various pictures of CARPET, naturally, and then I needed to add more poems because Shutterfly was like “we will not make a five page book for you, that’s fuckin’ ridic” so I added some other Val-inspired poems as well. It arrived yesterday and I have been CRACKING UP over it ever since!

I’m taking it to her tonight and she is either going to like it or be super confused.  If she even says she doesn’t remember this phase, I will die.

THIS WAS A WHOLE FUCKING THING. It happened when I was in 8th grade and I was SOOOOOOO OBSESSED with it (for literally no reason) that I even tried to explain it to my homeroom, going so far as to draw a diagram on the chalkboard and I was laughing so hard that I almost peed and blacked out and Scott Ash called me a SPED which I never understood until I was thinking about it recently and it clicked. All this time I thought he was calling me derogatory term for lesbian.

THE MONKEY BAR IS A LOCAL BAR IN THE TOWN WHERE I GREW UP.

This was maybe my MOST FAMOUS POEM. I think I wrote about this in greater detail at some point, but this one is a classic that I wrote after she called the police on me in 10th grade because I took a streak knife to the family portrait and then locked myself in my room and she was scared about what my explosive anger and I were planning next. 👼🏼 Meanwhile, all I was doing was sitting on the floor, being a depressed teenager, and listening to Bone Thugs n Harmony. They ended up taking me to the ER by ambulance. The EMTs that fateful afternoon were two seniors who sat near me in study hall. But no, I wasn’t embarrassed. And once I guilted my mom into signing me out of the ER (the doctor wanted to admit me–for what, I’m still not sure 👼🏼), she took me to McDonald’s on the way home and we all got a big laugh out of it. She did say that I wasn’t allowed to go to Kennywood for school picnic day after that but then school picnic day came and guess who was at Kennywood, jotting down notes for the KENNYWOOD SERIES of poems she was going to pen?

👼🏼

Actually, this was a supremely bad time in my life. I was going to a child psychologist, medicated, and having severe explosive anger issues, and also was self-harming to an extent and also dabbling in anorexia which I told myself wasn’t that but just a form of punishment – I mean, all functioning people withhold food from themselves. 10th grade was….awesome.

We were actually just fondly reminiscing about this day recently. She said the family portrait is still in her shed if I want it. I had no idea she kept that??

I sent this to my brother and it prompted a whole text discussion about how we looked like a family that had it all but we were sooooo dysfunctional. I mean, how many people can say that they have a normal family though, right? What even is that.

👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼 👼🏼

WOW I’M SENSING A REAL THEME WITH THIS POST AM I HAVING A BREAKTHRU.

 

May 122022
 

This year’s Mother’s Day was pretty ok! Chooch had to work so that was not cool, but he had a card and present waiting for me before he left!

It fucking kills me that he called me “Mother” since we’re such a casual family. So faux-formal! Janna said she was pleased to see that he finally mastered the art of properly addressing envelopes. Same! But then later that day, Henry said that Chooch actually came downstairs the night before and whispered, “Just to double check, it’s my name that goes on the envelope, right?”

OMFG the kid is such a scary genius but cannot grasp the concept of envelopes.

Sigh.

Also that card was JARRING. I was expecting sound and a pop-up, but not the LIGHTS and for some reason it really scared me.

Also x2 can we discuss the “(maybe?)” he dropped in after the “your son” part.

He also got me this really cool incense burner thing where the smoke billows down like a waterfall. He said it’s popular on Tik Tok but that’s not why he bought it – he already knew about it, of course, because he is Internet Hipster. Apparently there was another gift en route, which I ended up getting the next day and found out from Henry that Chooch paid an extra TWENTY DOLLARS of his McMoney  to have the shipping expedited, and it still didn’t arrive on  time, so now I want Henry to quietly  transfer $20 back into his checking account because that was so sweet but also very unnecessary!

Anyway, he got me the Glitch Mode NCT Dream album!!

I was so impressed because it was the RENJUN version and that’s my Dreamie bias! So I posted on Instragram about how sweet it is that Chooch knows my biases, etc only to find out when he came home from work that night that he had no idea and just chose one at random.

“I thought Haechan was your bias,” he said.

“HAECHAN IS MY OVERALL NCT BIAS ACROSS THE BOARD BUT RENJUN IS MY NCT DREAM BIAS DON’T YOU READ MY BLOG??” I cried, while Henry just sat there all smug because he knows all of my kpop preferences.

Henry got me a Kohl’s gift card and this delectable spread from 350 bakery. Dude. The one in the middle is blueberry pancake poptart which is my new favorite thing ever. The cookie sandwich up there is FRUITY PEBBLES (I get why they made it into a sandwich because cream = milk I guess but I honestly would have preferred just the cookies as standalones) and I have to plug their cinnamon buns (that sounds deviantly sexy) because they are legit some of the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had. I know, I know, “but Orems!” Orems are the OG Big Daddy of Pennsylvania cinnamon rolls, but they are really a different type of cinnamon roll. These ones are smaller, denser, and wear a thick and luscious cream cheese icing hat.

I like your style, 350 cinn.buns.

Then Henry and I went to a cemetery in Beaver. We tried to  take selfies but OMG SUN.

There was an entire squad of baby squirrels in this cemetery and we spent SO MUCH TIME feeding them (yes, we travel with walnuts in the car because we’re always going for walks). Oh my GOD, I could have just moved right in (preferably as a living person, not a corpse in the ground) because I was having the best time watching them chirp and chase each other.

Some of the headstones had really nice art / landscapes imprinted on them. “When I die, I want my headstone  to have a picture of cats, squirrels, roller coasters, and Korea. And grilled cheese,” I said.

“Wow,” Henry murmured. “That’s…a lot.”

(Actually, I want to have one of those GREEN BURIALS so I can come back as a tree and then squirrels can play on my branches, OMG what a delightful notion. But then some assholes like GARY & SONS will probably just come out and savagely cut me down one day. Because that is my luck.

Then today, my final Mother’s Day gift arrived. It was this cute squirrel necklace from Henry, which I sent to him on Instagram a few weeks ago and said GET ME THIS FOR MOTHER’S DAY. I mean, I really cook, plate, garnish and serve this shit right up for him. I don’t fuck around anymore. THIS IS WHAT I WANT, BUY IT FOR ME.

And of course my Mother’s Day gift to myself was STRAY KIDS TICKETS, BOY-O. Overall, it was a good one. Henry could always stand to do more though. I mean, I’m a leo with extremely high expectations. So.

May 112022
 

Yo, did I end up liking Busch Gardens Tampa better than Williamsburg?? OMG I think so? I will say though that both parks KILL IT with their coaster line up. So many parks have like, one or two Really Great coaster and then there’s a big drop-off in quality (you catching my shade, Carowinds?) but I feel like both east coast Busch Gardens parks got it going on because I’m a 1990s r&b slow jam lyricist now, ooh baby baby. Yeah.

ANYWAY!!! I will do a ride recap in another post. This one will just be about us, me and the Robbins Guys. The Kelly-Robbins cohort. We had an excelsior time and only fought once, and it was – wait for it – over food. But it ended almost as quickly as it began. I think we are *almost* at the age where we can vacation together without fighting every damn day. I have been looking back fondly at this trip ever since we came home, and I think that, aside from Korea, it will go down in the books as one of the best times we’ve had as a family.

I mean, look at us! We weren’t even mouthing off to each other behind fake smiles!

Probably talking about 3D printing stuff or other things that don’t plump my pleasures.

I don’t know what that means. I was trying a “just go with it” technique but that was weird.

Can you imagine if I taught writing classes? LOL LOOK FOR ME ON SKILLSHARE.

More boring talk. I don’t know why they were walking so fast, but my feet were like bloody stumps by Park #4 and I was struggling to keep up. And you know that it must have been dire straits because I am essentially a Professional Ambler.

Waiting for the train. Chooch was all of us at this moment. This was one super fast-paced trip and the prospect of sitting on a train was tantalizing.

OMG the train guy aggressively told us to go to the front of the train but we disobeyed him and went to BACK. We are from Pittsburgh, land of JAYWALKING and sitting where you want to sit on a scenic train.

OK this train was amazing because it was basically a SAFARI. We got to see all kinds of animals like giraffes and zebras and a shit ton of other animals I have never heard of. It was wonderful.

And we could see Iron Gwazi peeking through!

YOU GUYS there were so many Mr Gray Guys – Busch Gardens edition flouncing around. We watched some young guy feed one and pet him and then the squirrel was like “I’M YOURS NOW, LET’S GO” as he tried to climb into the guy’s backpack! It was GOALS. I have Girl Buddy fairly acclimated to me, like I can hand feed her and she’ll (sometimes) come when I whistle or scream GIRL BUDDY, HI! COME HERE! I HAVE WALNOOOOOTS! but I have been too afraid to try to pet her.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Chooch and a THREE-LEGGED Mr. Gray Guy!! I’ll tell you, these squirrels are living their best lives at Busch Gardens.

Lol, I forgot about this at the time, but when we came upon this hut thing, Chooch screamed, “It’s the hut that Molly was in! Let’s go!” and I was like, “Wha—?” and then I remembered that MOLLY, the girlfriend of one of the guys from YouTube channel In The Loop, did a fake “house tour” when they were last at Busch Gardens.

“Take a picture of us where Molly stood!” Chooch demanded, and Henry was like, “OK but I don’t know what is happening” similar to this other time we were at a theme park and made him take our picture somewhere Molly had previously posed.

Honestly, we love Molly. I hope we run into her at a park someday.

PROBABLY bitching because Henry’s FUCKING SHOW was squeaking through the whole damn trip. It’s still squeaking and driving us up a fucking wall. I reminded Henry of the time recently when he was about to get into the car and was like, “Oh. Wow let me take care of this first” and pulled a huge fucking thick ass nail thing out of the sole of his shoe. Now we can’t remember where this happened, but he thinks that was probably the genesis of THE SQUEAK.

This was literally so annoying that I wrote about it in nearly every post card I sent.

Chooch was TOO TIRED to walk down to the gift shop that I stopped in before we left the park. We found him sitting on bench, befriending a duck. This is Peak Chooch, honestly. You can always find him off somewhere talking to an animal. Who even knows where he got that trait from.

And that’ll do it for this post.

May 102022
 

People. Listen. You know that I am a SLUT for Rocky Mountain Construction. One of my bucket list items is to ride every RMC in the world because they are actually works of art.

One of the most controversial RMCs of late is Iron Gwazi in Busch Gardens Tampa. It was originally a dueling coaster called Gwazi, which was notoriously rough and a prime candidate for the RMC treatment. It was like HUGE NEWS in the coastersphere when Busch Gardens officially announced that it would definitely be happening. I think this was in 2019, and it was slated to open for the 2020 season.

Welp. We all know about 2020.

So then it was pushed to 2021 but ended up SBNO (standing but not operating) for the entire season. I looked GREAT though! Seemingly complete, but you know, you just couldn’t ride the damn thing. I remember at some point during the summer of 2021, there were videos circulating of IRON GWAZI TESTING!

But then nothing.

The park finally announced sometime that fall that it would be officially opening in March 2022. We had actually tossed around the idea of doing a Florida park road trip last January, but omicron was still rampant so we nixed that idea. It was for the best though because I don’t think I would have been able to handle being that close to such a magnificent RMC without being able to ride it.

Imagine my screaming when we solidified our spring break plans and I finally let it sink in that I WOULD BE RIDING IRON GWAZI less than a month after it opened!! (I mean, GOD WILLING.) The world’s steepest and fastest hybrid coaster! (As of this posting anyway!)

Obviously we made a beeline for Iron Gwazi as soon as we arrived at Busch Gardens on this beautiful, sunny Wednesday in April. It is right near the entrance too so that was great! Now that I’m thinking back to this day, I don’t even remember walking through the gates. I mean, we definitely did, but I have no recollection of it AT ALL. I just know that we got there a little bit after the park opened and I was so nervous that everything was going to be crowded already.

LOL. Janice. Please. Iron Gwazi was a motherfucking STATION WAIT.

A STATION WAIT.

Can you even!?!?

And not just for our inaugural ride. It was like this all day long. I think the longest we waited MIGHT have been 25-30 minutes but that was just because we wanted the front row.

LOOK AT THE FRONT OF THE CAR THOUGH!!

And I loved all of the greenery around the queue, and the polynesian-esque roof thingies. I am very cultured. Look at me go.

I love this picture of us so much!

OK let’s back up, Brenda. The line attendant was assigning seats but anytime we asked for the back, they were just like, “That’s fine” which cracked me up. I love a backseat ride on an RMC, and this was no exception. Broken record here, but I am not good at explaining roller coasters so I will just say that this was 100% worth the hype and I got off the damn thing feeling INVIGORATED. Like most RMCs, this bitch is RELENTLESS. It makes you feel like you’re being yanked around on a leash, or riding out an avalanche down a mountainside. From the first drop, you’re just careening at breakneck speed, unable to even contemplate the elements you’re whipping through.

And it only got better and better with every ride as the day went on.

Here’s how you know RMCs are the real ones: Henry does not often re-ride coasters, but he always gets back in line for an RMC.

This is Henry agreeing with what I just said up there.

I rode once with Henry in the third to last row and this broad in the dress was right behind us yapping at the back of my head the whole way up the lift hill, and on one hand I was agreeing with all the super hype shit she was saying about air time, etc, but she was more annoying than anything else. Especially when we arrived back on the brake run and I said to Henry, “OK, that sealed it for me. I like this better than Steel Vengeance,” and it was almost like she heard me and was purposely squawking to her husband about how Steel Vengeance is still superior because it’s a longer ride, and OK I’ll give it that, but Iron Gwazi did more for me in a shorter amount of time than SteVe.

Also, SteVe is RARELY re-rideable. That motherfucker always has a huge line every time we’ve gone to Cedar Point, except for when it’s down.

Which is often.

So this is why I’m ranking Iron Gwazi higher – the entire experience from the queue to the ride itself was just a bit better than SteVe in my opinion.

Chooch and I got right back in line and this time opted for the front and that dumb bitch got in line right behind us so we had to endure her being a THOOSIE IN A DRESS again but at least since she was in line for the same row as us, that meant I wouldn’t have her screeching behind me again.

She was the only person who annoyed me all day (aside from Henry, natch) and honestly, she wasn’t even that bad.

EW, DAVID.

Henry liked Iron Gwazi so much that HE BOUGHT THE DAMN HAT. Chooch got a t-shirt. I got nothing and I have big sads over that. I should have gotten at least a coffee cup or something!

This was the last BIG COASTER that we had to check off the list for this road trip and it was really like saving the best for last.

Ugh, but VelociCoaster…

No, Iron Gwazi….

Yeah, but those VelociCoaster night rides…

OK but Iron Gwazi’s insane elements…

Yeah, I can’t decide. Those are two very different coasters and ride experiences. Can it just be a tie!?

This was our 8th RMC (just Henry’s 6th LOLOLoser) and it’s safe to say that RMC still owns my heart. This trip had Chooch replacing B&M with Intamin for his favorite manufacturer, but it’s still me and RM sittin’ in a (hybrid) tree.

May 092022
 

Henry had to do a delivery thingie in Erie on Saturday and was all, “Wah, come with me. Wah, I don’t want to be alone.” It was actually embarrassing. I only went because it was a miserable, rainy day in Pittsburgh, but sunny in Erie. I’d rather be in a dumb work van in the sun than sitting in the house in the rain. MAYBE THAT’S JUST ME.

We listened to and talked about kpop  the whole way there because that’s how you kpop-couple. Also, this is weird, but I think it’s really made our relationship better somehow?? Like, we finally found something that we can both enjoy? Or we’re just numb to each other. Probably a little of both.

Henry brought up the fact that Stray Kids had to add three additional shows to their upcoming US tour because it sold out so fast since Ticketmaster refuses to do anything about BOTS and scammers. I’m seriously so angry about that shit. Fuck Ticketmaster so hard. Anyway, this inspired me to look up the Newark shows to see if there were any tickets left. A handful for both nights, all resellers. I’m normally very against this but I started to have HUGE FOMO and wished that I had tried to get tickets when they first went on sale. I haven’t seen a kpop concert since SuperM in November 2019 and my heart needs fed. My friend Veronica lives in LA and she’s been living her best life by going to smaller shows for groups she doesn’t know much about just because she can and needs to. Everyone should be like Veronica!! If Pittsburgh wasn’t such a podunk city, I’d do the same thing. But I have to TRAVEL for kpop.

It’s fine.

Anyway, I started doing my HEAVY SIGH/WISTFUL EYELASH BAT routine that I step into whenever I’m trying to coax Henry into saying what I want him to say without my having to say it first, in this case, “GO AHEAD AND GET TICKETS IF YOU WANT.”

He did not pass the test.

So I had to flat out say that I wanted to go which started a whole, “THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY” and “I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN GET THAT DAY OFF WORK” and “THEN WE HAVE TO GET A HOTEL” line of rhetoric which I’m used to and can work with, trust.

“What if you get tickets for this and then NCT127 announces their tour?” Henry asked, trying to reason with me on a level he knew I would understand.

“Then I’ll buy tickets for that too. That’s why I have credit cards. For emergencies,” I said in a LE DUH tone developed exclusively for teenage girls.

“Kpop is not an emergency,” he sighed, and I knew that this would be just Part 1 of my plan. TO BE CONTINUED…

Anyway, the other reason I agreed to go was because he said we could get lunch in Erie and I found a diner (dinor, for some reason) that had polenta on the menu. LIKE, THREE TIMES! Or maybe just twice, I can’t remember, but there were actually other vegetarian options for me too, lots of avocado things, and even a meatless eggs benedict. I don’t think there were any vegan options though. If there were, the menu didn’t do a great job noted it.

First Henry to make his super boring lame delivery. I read a book while this was happening and then when he was done, I harangued him for being so slow and told him maybe he’s too old and should consider a new line of work.

I’m an honest partner.

Gem City was CUTE. I don’t know what I was expecting. I don’t know much about Erie but assumed that it was going to be a grungy joint with lots of Flos strutting around with grits to kiss. But no, it was kind of quirky with local art that you could buy straight from the wall. It was exactly noon so the place was crowded but the tables were spread out nicely so it didn’t feel stuffy. We were seated within 5 minutes, which was great and everyone there was super friendly and laid back, but maybe too laid back because we didn’t get our food until almost 1pm, which seems excessive for a diner (sorry, DINOR).

Fun fact about me: I went through such a heavy love affair with polenta in 2007/2008 that I created a category for it on here (I think it only has like 2 or 3 posts added to it though, you know how I run hot and cold). I also really don’t understand what it is. But I do like it! It’s the texture for me, fam.

This polenta was OK. But I kind of regret getting the breakfast option and wish I had gone with the polenta salad because that sounded really refreshing, but also the avocado sandwich did too so now I guess I need to go back someday.

No veggie burgers though which was kind of odd because it would have felt on brand for this place. Their signature burger had BURNT HAM, blackberry jam, and Wisconsin brie on it, and I wanted Henry to get it because I didn’t understand this whole “burnt ham” thing but I guess it’s an Erie thing?

Henry just got the house burger, whatever that is.

THIS BATHROOM THO?! I mean, I would never choose that wallpaper print for my own house but I loved it for Gem City. It made me feel fancy while I was peeing. I’m glad I didn’t pass on this piss chance.

Um, then we went to Waldameer because it was open for season pass photo day and said that some rides would be operating and I was like, “I guarantee that Ravine Flyer II won’t be one of them” but Henry—who was in, like, a really great mood I guess because he felt all cool and bigly because he thought I was actually watching him load cases of beverage onto his dolly-thing earlier but I can promise you that I was not—exclaimed, “WELL, WE’RE IN THE AREA, IT WON’T HURT TO CHECK!” So we went there and the only rides open were the carousel, Scrambler and Music Express. We bought Chooch cotton candy though and then left.

AND THEN CAME HOME AND BOUGHT STRAY KIDS TICKETS HAHAHAHA I’M GOING TO SEE STRAY KIDS NEXT MONTH BOY-O. Did I spend more than I would have preferred on not-great seats? Fuck yeah I did, for sure. But do I regret it? NO REGERTZ.

 

This has been me telling you about the things that happened last Saturday.

May 072022
 

Let’s pray this is the last part of the Islands of Adventure series and then we can move on to the next park.

*cue faux enthusiasm from the crowd*

This is the shittiest picture of the Hulk but I was just so excited to finally ride it since it was closed for refurbishment in 2016! I LOVED IT! If I had ridden it in 2016, it would have hands down been my favorite ride in the park. We stand a solid B&M. And the wait was only about 10 minutes!

I remember that we rode this immediately after VelociCoaster, so it was our 2nd ride of the day and it wasn’t even 9am yet! Was this day going to be the opposite of what the vlogs and crowd prediction websites warned of???

We rode Spiderman after this which was about a 25 minute wait. This made spoiled Chooch lose his mind because the line appeared longer than it was. I forgot how good this ride is!

Then it was Kong time. I kept my expectations low because I heard from numerous sources that the line is more entertaining than the ride. Pen please, I’d like to cosign this sentiment.

OK that’s harsh – the ride was fine! But the queue was very well-themed and actually kind of enjoyable to walk through. I think the wait was only about 30 minutes though.

It’s funny – in other amusement park contexts, like for instance Kennywood, I would definitely balk at a 30 minute for a non-coaster but at Universal, 30 minutes felt like a walk-on since we were prepared for outrageous crowds. Oh did I mention that approx. 87 times already? Sorry, but I’m still trying to get over our stroke of luck, because apparently the crowds had heated up the very next day. Randomly choosing a Tuesday for Universal turned out to be very fortuitous! Especially because this was the only park on our itinerary that locked us into a specific day – you couldn’t just buy a ticket online and go any day you wanted. This made us so nervous!!

Many skulls.

I never saw Kong but I imagine this creepy witch person is in it? They were cursing us in tongues and it was actually kind of terrifying.

Anyway, the ride itself was fine!

After this, it was around 10 or so, and that’s when I decided it was “ride-or-die” time re: Hagrid’s. You can read about that shit here.

OMG for lunch we went to a real restaurant instead of a self-service place like we normally would do! We went to Confisco Grill because they had veg/vegan options. We beat the lunch crowd and they sat us within 5 minutes!

I had vegan pad Thai and my body was straight rejoicing as the tofu slid down my food chute. The pad Thai was semi-bland which ended up being good because I really don’t want to eat a heavy meal at a theme park and this was actually sort of light. I was SO HAPPY. Chooch and Henry both got udon – Chooch went with the vegan version and Henry got manly meateaters’ version with pork belly. They were just moderately happy with it but we’re only here to care about my thoughts and feelings, and my lunch was great. So moving on…

Probably arguing over directions.

This area of the park was moderately crowded all day until early evening. This are and Hogsmeade definitely made the park seem more crowded that it was. Although, the wait times did fluctuate a lot throughout the day. VelociCoaster was always about 30-45 minutes though which was wonderful since that was THE RIDE we wanted to re-ride over and over again!

I forgot how amusing Poseidon’s is! It’s a live action show thingie and Henry didn’t do it last time because he thought it was a water ride like the one at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Chooch and I didn’t even know what it was back then, but that just adds to the fun! Anyway, Henry joined us this time and agreed that it was “fun, yeah.”

MY FAVORITE – THE DR SEUSS TRAIN!!

We did not spend nearly enough time here, if I’m being honest.

A few days after, I think that both Disney and Universal went back to full-contact meet-and-greets but I was ok not hugging anyone while we were there. It was hot.

And…hugs.

Ew.

LOOK AT IT!!! I made Henry ride it with me later that night when Chooch was running amok with his friend from school who also happened to be there. That’s the dream, really – being at a park as awesome as Islands of Adventure with a friend??! Here I was stuck with Henry, but I guess that was ok too.

Henry 100% is not a fan of this train and also the wait was SO LONG, like 45 minutes!!?? The ops were awful.

The scenery in this park is top notch. I wish we had spent more time just sitting and taking everything in. I mean, I guess we did a lot of that the last time we visited because we had three whole days to spend at both parks. But still…

Oh! For some reason I don’t have any photos of this but we went to Crescent Moon Bakery right before they closed at 4 because every vegan Universal video I watched (again, we’re not vegan but Chooch and I are vegetarians and this is how we find out what our options are) and I really wanted a vegan elderberry croissant. They had one left!! I felt so blessed.

There was some super bitchy Beverly Hills broad ordering when we got there and of course she was trying to make some special request for her gluten free bitch friend who was too busy screaming on the phone to order her own damn panini or whatever the fuck. They were so unappreciative and rude to the lady behind the counter and you know what, the place was supposed to close in literally 3 minutes so fuck these people for coming in and ordering food. All we wanted to do was buy baked goods that required no preparation so I made sure we were extra nice to make up for those stuck-up botox broads.

Literally what is the point of being rude to people in the service industry. I don’t get it. Oh wait, that’s because I’m not an entitled delulu.

Anyway, after this we rode VelociCoaster again and then that’s when Chooch ditched us and we went to Seuss Landing, lol.

So romantic!! Seuss Landing at night!!

Henry bought a SNICKERDOODLE at Seuss Landing.

If we’re being honest, I’m kind of pissed that we wasted so much time in line for that damn train when we could have ridden the Cat in the Hat ride or something else, but YOU LIVE AND LEARN.

(Do I though?)

OMG then the best thing ever happened: I convinced Henry to lean into his inner KID AT HEART and ride Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls or whatever it’s called, I don’t feel like looking it up, but I will tell you that it’s my favorite log flume ride in the entire world. (Until I finally stuff my ass on the one at Phantasialand, anyway.)

There was NO LINE but the queue itself is so long that it still took us a good five minutes just to get to the end, and it was disconcerting because it was so dark and we couldn’t tell where we were going some of the time, and some random girl was behind us, which made me paranoid and I felt like I had to walk faster but my feet hurt SO BAD.

Henry bitched the WHOLE TIME because he did NOT want to ride a water ride at night and I was like, “No, it will be fine. I don’t think you get that wet on this, so please shut the fuck up, you’re ruining my perfect day.”

Yeah, so here’s Henry actually attempting to put money in the people dryer afterward, which he WOULD NEVER TYPICALLY DO BECAUSE HE IS A CHEAP-O, but um, we got W-E-T. Like, thoroughly soaked, and he was so pissed, lol.

LOL, look at him.

Yo, I can’t remember the last time I laughed THIS HARD in public. I was almost in tears during the whole ride because Henry’s plight was so hilarious to me, him behind me muttering, “Oh, Erin” every time we got doused. And the fact that it was nighttime made it even more fun because we couldn’t see what was coming and you guys, I forget about that grand finale. I was full-on BELLY LAUGHING, like totally unattractive deep-throated manly GUFFAWS. Yes, GUFFAWS. I was GU-FUCKING-FAWWING all over myself, to the point where I’m not sure how much of the wetness on my face was Ripsaw Falls water or my own saliva.

I could feel Henry go completely rigid behind me after that last drop. He was so pissed that it just stunned him into silence which made me laugh even harder.

Oh my lord, I highly recommend this ride at night.

The only bad part is that Henry lost his WILDWOOD HAT on it! But that just gave him an excuse to buy a VelociCoaster hat, which kickstarted a new souvenir hat-buying hobby. And then you know what he said?? “We’ll just have to go back to Wildwood so I can get a new hat.”

OMG YES WE CAN.

Anyway, after this, it was minutes away from park closing so we headed back to VelociCoaster to wait for Chooch who had opted to end the night with one last night ride on that with his pal. While we were waiting, one of the line attendants called out to all of us waiting in the courtyard area that they were closing the line and anyone who wanted to ride had until he made it back to the ride entrance to get in line. I could have made it and now I wish I had tried. But instead, I stayed with Henry and waited for Chooch.

Regertz.

Second regertz: not ordering Voodoo Donuts before they turned off online ordering. The line was way too long by the time we left the park and walked through City Walk.

It was well past park closing by the time Chooch and his friend exited the ride. They said goodbye and then we made the painful, sore-footed walk back to the park entrance (we stopped at one last gift shop first though!) and it was just really fun being there when Universal was technically closed! Barely anyone was left in the park and it was so cool. It also made me laugh because that morning, Henry made some comment about how we probably weren’t going to stay until the park closed, right? Lol, bitch you thought.

I think this about wraps up our day at Islands of Adventure. I already loved this place, but this second visit made me wish that I lived close enough to be able to realistically need a season pass. I’m already looking forward to returning, and even more stoked for Universal’s Epic Universe to open in a few years.

Also! I think that we only fought once, and it was a classic Erin v. Chooch stand-off when we rode Hulk the second time. I can’t remember what instigated it, probably the fact that I didn’t make it to the line entrance at the same time he did so TWO WHOLE PEOPLE got in front of us, boo hoo. And then we proceeded to snip and snap at each other for an additional 3 minutes before I was like YOU KNOW WHAT JUST DON’T TALK TO ME WE’RE LEAVING AFTER THIS YOU’RE THE WORST I DON’T LIKE YOU but then we rode it and had an amazing time and then we were friends again, forever united by rollercoasters.

Was this my favorite day of vacation? I think so. OK yes, it was, definitely.

May 062022
 

It’s Friday. I haven’t done a “5” in a while. Here’s an amusement park palate-cleanser:

  1. Troop Beverly Hills, what a thrill.

After all of my HENRY HAS NEVER SEEN TROOP BEVERLY HILLS / HENRY IS NOW WATCHING TROOP BEVERLY HILLS / HENRY THOUGHT TROOP BEVERLY HILLS WAS ‘NOT BAD’ Internet postings a few weeks ago, my pal Heidi got an Instagram ad for Troop Beverly Hills shirts. She shared it with me and I immediately the above shirt, and also another design too because I NEEDED TO. My heart *and* my head were saying it was the right choice. When I told Henry I bought two, I think he was initially scared because he thought I meant I bought two of the same shirts, one for me and one for him.

WHY DIDN’T I DO THAT.

Oh well, Father’s Day and his birthday are both coming up…

Pink and green is my ult color combo, ever since I was a youngin’ and had a green dress with pink hippos on it. I love that dress so much and also it was when I was still cute & and an only child, so I relate these colors to the best days of my life.

I have a faux-suede moto jacket that I thought would look adorable with this shirt so I stupidly asked Henry to take pictures of me in it when we went to the cem for a walk later that day last weekend.

Bro, we’re still in the same city, stand back some more.

Honestly, what goes through this man’s head when I ask him to take a fucking picture? “Take a picture of me but also make sure I’m just a blip on the screen.”

I had to actually take a test photo for him because he did the same fucking shit here too!!! AND IT WASN’T EVEN LEVEL.

Where is Chooch when I need him. Oh yeah, WORKING.

I dunno what these poses are. I don’t even care anymore.

And then instead of helping me down from the wall, Henry took pictures of my flailing descent. (I am terrified of even the smallest heights and have found myself paralyzed in fear before having to dismount from things even shorter than that wall. One time I got stuck in a tree – only like 2 feet off the ground – and Henry took a picture of me crying in it.)

2. Hunting for Chocolate Chip Cookies

After we left the cem, I was craving chocolate chip cookies. However, it was now around 3pm and god forbid bakeries be open past like, 1pm. So we were stressing about where to go and I remembered that one time, Henry stopped at this ice cream shop on the North Side and we were pleasantly surprised to find that they had outrageously good cookies. So we rolled up and it was CLOSED FOR VACATION. But! I remembered that literally right across there was another bakery-type place that I thought might be open because they also serve food. CLOSED FOR TECHNICAL ISSUES. Henry was like, “Oh, Adda coffee is on this street too – they usually have baked goods.” CLOSED SEVERAL MINUTES AGO.

The worst!!!

Literally every other option nearby was closed according to Google and Yelp, but then I saw a listing for this Mexican bakery called Panaderia in Mt. Lebanon, which is on the way to picking up Chooch from work, so we stopped there because they have NORMAL PEOPLE HOURS.

It was very small and narrow so I didn’t take any other pictures, but everything we got (and we got a lot because we’re pigs for baked goods) was wonderful and not too sweet so I ate so much without getting sick!

Now I’m jealous of all the authentic treats Chooch will be smashing in Meridian this summer.

In case you were wondering, I did get a chocolate chip cookie the next day when we went to pick up our pints at Sugar Spell Scoops. It was literally exactly what I wanted. A choco-fucking-chip cookie. How hard is it?! I would have been happy with a pack of Chips Ahoy, honestly.

(I dunno what it is about Chips Ahoy, probably the nostalgia talking, but sometimes those are all I ever want. Even over Oreos. Gimme a fistful of the Ahoys with a cold cup of milk, boy-o.)

3. Girl Buddy’s Babies

Well guys, it was inevitable. About a month or two ago, Girl Buddy was stealing stuff from our yard to use in her nest, which apparently was INSIDE HNC’S PORCH ROOF. I know this because I watched her run next door with all her nesting supplies in her mouth and begin to run up HNC’s sidewalk, only for his wife to come barging out of the house and literally yell, “SHOO! SHOO SQUIRREL!!” Girl Buddy tried to come back again a few minutes but this time was shooed all the way down the driveway to the backyard.

What a hater HNC’s wife is.

Nevertheless, Girl Buddy prevailed and made her nest up in there, and then two weeks ago, the little babies started poking their heads out of the roof opening! And as of last week, they were old enough to leave the nest and were tentatively climbing down the wall. This was super cute but also awful because Ruth was home and they were making a racket. So I was standing on my porch, tossing grapes down the driveway in a desperate attempt to lure them away from her damn porch, because she has been going BALLISTIC lately. Not just with the squirrels (although she did come home one day and bellow MOTHERFUCKING SQUIRRELS!!!), but with everyone. She started a fight with one guy because he parked his van on the street and was pulled forward too far so that she couldn’t easily back out of the driveway and she threatened him with a baseball bat.

I have a recording of it. It was…wow. Just wow. To be that miserable.

So my days have been spent policing the squirrel sitch because I’m so afraid she’s going to come home with a BB gun one day and I am trying so hard to protect these precious beings.

MY HEART.

The other evening, Ruth was other there having a conniption. They’re messing with her plants, I don’t even know. She needs to get over herself because her porch is not that nice. Anyway, she was on the phone screaming to HNC about it and he was like “i will take care of it” (she had him on speaker so the whole neighborhood could hear). So she’s out there yelling about it and sweeping (OMG our porches are little square slabs and she is out there sweeping with a compulsion, like numerous times a day, I truly don’t know what is left for her to sweep) and while this was happening, Girl Buddy started hopping over to the porch steps, like “SAY IT TO MY FACE!” I was fucking dying. Girl Buddy is ruthless.

4. HEARTSTOPPER

See the source image

If you read all of my book wrap-up posts, well, you’re a real one. But also, then you might know that I have read and ADORED Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper graphic novel series (the way the backs of my eyes are stinging with looming tears right now). Well, I had been anxiously awaiting the premier of the Netflix adaptation and it was worth the wait. This series is everything. The casting is IMPECCABLE. I watch every episode while hugging myself so that my heart doesn’t explode.

I can’t explain how or why but the confusing emotions and coming-of-age strife and giddy love conveyed in the graphic novels are so palpable. It made me feel like I was back in 9th grade. And the cast totally takes everything Alice Oseman has given them and just fucking sparkles on screen. I love it so much and I’m hoping that we get a season for each book?! I don’t care if you think this out of your demographic. It’s amazing and sweet and pure, and you will love it. Imagine how many kids this is helping right now, how many adults wish they had this when they were growing up. That’s the part that really makes the ice crack a little around my heart. Whew.

Also, I’m obsessed with Kit Connor.

Alsox2: This is GOOD:

Netflix’s ‘Heartstopper’ Is Its Highest Scoring Critic And Audience Hit In Ages (forbes.com)

See the source image

5. Coaster Socializing

We finally bit the bullet and joined a coaster club/organization. I can’t remember if I mentioned this on here already but I feel like I did? Or did I have some self-deprecating tweet about it? Who knows. But originally, we just signed Chooch up because he is allowed to bring two guests to most of the events. But then saw  that this club is organizing a Nordic trip for the summer of 2023 and excuse me, sir, but I want in on that action. It’s for member’s only so now Henry and I are members too, lol.

Honestly though, I really am hoping that this works out because we don’t have any friends who are into this shit and I am dying to talk to someone about the rumors that Hershey’s Wildcat is going to get RMCd. You know. Roller coaster thangs. We tried this club action before with the Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts and it was cool to get to do some behind-the-scenes stuff but literally no one in that group talked to us and we felt so out of place.

We’re already off to a bad start with this coaster one because the guy hasn’t emailed us any info like he was supposed to and we need a fucking membership # in order to register for any upcoming event we want to attend, so this is annoying.

Well, I have shit to do so let’s end this on a dreamy note….an NCT DREAMy note, that is!

May 052022
 

With the exception of the new(ish) Hagrid’s ride (I refuse to type out the full name, it’s outrageously long and stupid), we already did all of the Harry Potter stuff the last time we were at Universal,  and it was a good thing too seeing as this was the only area of Islands of Adventure that was actually crowded.

Hagrid’s was right up with VelociCoaster as far MUST-DOs went on this trip, and I was watching the wait times on the app like a fucking hawk for a few days leading up to our visit. It was always in the three digits no matter the day and time, so I was prepared for at least a 2-hr wait. Even when we first got there that morning, the wait time was already 150 minutes!!

Late morning, the time dropped down to 130 minutes (lol, wow what a reprieve) and I made the unilateral decision that it was now or never. I’m pretty sure that Hagrid’s is known to break down throughout the day and this was actually the lowest I had seen the line over the last three days of cyber-stalking.

I suggested that we put our stuff in a locker because I wasn’t sure what the loose articles sitch was like and, not that this matters, but I remembered having to empty everything from our pockets and go through a metal detector when it was still Dueling Dragons, the coaster that Hagrid’s replaced.

Almost immediately upon entering our new home for the next who knows how many hours, Henry and Chooch were quick to point out  that pretty much every single person in line had their phones. Chooch wanted to kill me, and it didn’t make things any better when I said, “Oh well, now we’ll just have to talk to each other!”

BIG SMILE.

You guys. What a line. It wasn’t as awful as you would think because the queue scenery is so well-done (I’d share pictures but LOL we were off the grid). For the first portion, we were outside but even that part had cool Harry Potter shit to look at. I don’t know if it was a good or bad thing not knowing how long the queue actually was.

Once we got inside the ride building, I was happy for a change of scenery, but now we were out of the sunlight and basically living like moles for the next however long. We reached a standstill at one point, where the line just wasn’t moving AT ALL. We could see a line attendant up ahead blocking the way with a chain but we had no idea what was going on. Everyone was starting to get shifty and restless now. There were two girls in front of us and one of them asked if we had ever ridden it before. “It’s so worth it,” she said when I said we hadn’t. So that was reassuring! And I had only ever heard great things about this coaster, which was why I was in for the long haul.

I guess when you go into things with the expectation of having to wait, it’s not as bad. We had gotten so incredibly lucky with VelociCoaster, so this felt like an even trade to me. We continued to wait without complaining, and omg we actually talked to each other! Even Chooch! He spoke to us! In public! Without even a hint of derision in his teenaged tone!

Turns out the reason why we had come to a standstill was because we had reached the STORY TIME point in the line. Th line attendant ushered a large group of us into a room and said, “MOVE ALL THE WAY DOWN.” I stupidly listened to him instead of sticking with the two girls in front of us, who were like “no thanks” and stayed along the left side of the room. So now we had to watch this….show? where Hagrid and Mr. Weasley are doing stuff, I dunno, I was drifting off. But it was basically building up the ride experience, so you knew why you were riding on some motorcycle thing.

But here’s the point in the story where I wish I had paid more attention to YouTube reviews of this ride, because then I would have known, well, that we were allowed to bring phones onto the ride, for starters, but also that this room is fucking dumb and that the exit is on the same side of the wall which we entered, so WHEN THE EXIT DOOR OPENED, WE LOST OUR SPOT IN LINE AND NOW THERE WERE LIKE 50 MORE PPL IN FRONT OF US.

At the end of the day, it really only set us back about 15 minutes, but it was so frustrating and Chooch was losing his goddamn mind over it. Every time we saw the two girls way up ahead in line, Chooch would say, “Just a reminder that we’d be all the way up there right now…”

He’s actually still finding ways to “just a reminder” me about this, and it’s been almost a month.

Meanwhile, we were wending and winding our way through room after room and thankfully they were all nicely themed so we had shit to look at, but really it was just like being in a dungeon with a bunch of strangers, none of which were annoying at least. No line-jumping here!

Another PRO TIP is that the single rider line bypasses that whole stupid story-telling room and so much more of the internal queue, but it was our first time riding it and I wanted to ride together! I think Chooch would have happily ditched us in favor of riding with a lone stranger though.

Eventually we reached a point where the family behind us started asking us when the fuck the line would end and we were like, “Let us slip on our ‘seeing-thru-walls’ glasses & get back to you.” This was when we were in a stone corridor and it felt like the walls were caving in.

So maybe about an hour into the line at that point?

The line was moving so inconsistently and I couldn’t figure out why. This ride is high-capacity! I think they run like 10 trains at a time and the loading station uses a moving conveyor belt system to really keep that shit going.  But I guess it’s just THAT popular that even with excellent ops, there is just always going to be a line. Even on days when the rest of the park doesn’t seem too overly crowded.

So annoying!

Anyway, after the corridor section, we got to ANOTHER room and this is where we realized that this was where the fucking FAST PASS / QUICK QUEUE / EASY ENTRY / RICH PPL ONLY whatever the fuck you call it, pick one, people were spilling into the general queue. On one hand, that meant we must be close to the platform! On the other hand, it was so frustrating watching more and more people push us back in line. One of the families had this HUGE/TALL guy with them and Chooch was like AW HAGRID CAME TO RIDE HIS OWN RIDE but he said it kind of loud and Henry was like SHHHH because that’s Henry for you. Always at the ready with a dad-like SHHHH.

Then we did it! We reached the finish line! Everyone was getting so amped now, being in the final holding room, hearing the trains being loaded in the station on the other side of the wall, seeing the end of the single rider line!!

“Just a reminder that we’d be next,” Chooch said as the two girls who used to be in front of us were now being admitted onto the platform. Fuck off, Chooch.

I’m so glad that there were enough people ahead of us for us to still be in line long enough for Chooch to have the chance to say, “Just a reminder we’d be getting off the ride now,” as we saw the two girls walking through the exit a few minutes later.

Then we were next in line!! “Meet your new best friend,” the line attendant said to Henry as he was paired up with someone from the single ride line. I can’t believe it worked out this way AGAIN, but Chooch and I got the back row and Henry and his new friend (who was Maybe French, and I know this because Henry wouldn’t shut up about him like they had really shared something special together) got the front row of the next train!!

Anyway, finally the ride! Hagrid’s is a multi-launch family coaster with several tricks and gimmicks up its sleeve. I thought it was really fun! It made me laugh, and I felt that it was worth the wait – for the first time. While I would have loved to get a night ride on that thing, I was not willing to stand in that line again. So it’s got to lose some points for not being easily re-rideable. Which is a shame too because there was so much going on, and also the option to ride on the motorcycle or sidecar, so I feel like the experiences could vary.

But yeah, it was seriously fun and a GREAT family coaster. I do typically prefer more intense coasters, but I knew going in that this wasn’t going to deliver on that front.

“Can we stay on?” Chooch jokingly asked the ride attendant on the unloading platform. The guy took him seriously and said, “Oh man, I’m sorry but no. I wish I could let you,” and Chooch was like, “Haha I was kidding,” but the guy kept going on about how we couldn’t stay on and it was borderline embarrassing. Thankfully everyone else on our train had already started to walk away so no one else heard.

Thanks for that, Chooch.

For a split second, I liked it better than VelociCoaster but then came to my senses!

So overall, by the time we boarded the ride, we had actually been standing in line for less than 130 minutes. I think it was more like 110, or an hour and 45 minutes, which still isn’t fantastic but actually less than what I was bracing for when we planned this trip!

When I said this to Chooch, he was quick to point out, “Just a reminder, it would have been about 15 minutes less if we had stayed with those girls.”

UGH UGH UGH.

After we got off the ride, we immediately went to retrieve our phones and it was literally like REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD.

Hogsmeade is so beautiful.

We came back to Hogsmeade later for Butterbeer!

You know I’m 100% vegetarian and only about 75% vegan but this is still really annoying to me: Did you know that jackass terf J.K. Rowling contractually does not allow Universal Studios to offer foam-less Butterbeer to those who request it? This prevents vegans and other people with food allergies from being able to enjoy the Hogsmeade staple and I think it’s so stupid. I’m not sure if it’s actually JK Rowling’s doing but it was mentioned in several videos I watched about Universal Studios and she’s such a fucking weirdo that I wouldn’t doubt it.

Henry refused to drink his until I put my phone away, lol.

It really is great though. I am such an old person when it comes to butterscotch. Butterscotch candies are my absolute favorite and if it’s an option, I will usually take it over hot fudge on a sundae. My mom used to make the most divine butterscotch pie that my taste buds can still conjure up the memory of even though I haven’t had it since I was in high school probably. I recently asked her for the recipe so Henry can make it and she told me to look on Pinterest!??!? Um, I want the specific recipe she used back in the day BUT OK I’ll get it from some twee Pinterest influencer. Yay.

The only other Harry Potter ride we did that day was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I would say we waited in line for about 40-45 minutes but the line moves pretty continuously and like Hagrids, there is a lot to look at. This line was MUCH MORE ANNOYING than Hagrids though because right off the bat, a family of five behind us cut through an empty part of the queue and jumped ahead of not only us but the family of 5 who was in front of us. The dad of that family called them out by saying, “Not fair, guys. Not fair” and they just looked at him blankly and continued on with their cheating ways.

So now I was fixated on hating them. The mom reminded me SO MUCH of this total psycho bitch I used to be friends with during my LiveJournal ways who was super into making yarn hair to sell on Etsy (she actually told me back then that she wouldn’t recommend me selling my art and serial killer cards on Etsy, that they probably wouldn’t sell…that was in 2006 and here we are) and Civil War reenactments. Ugh. I literally could not stop glowering at the mom while she played some dumb hand games with her son who looked like he was in college, and then her mini-me teenaged daughter was doing the same with the youngest son, but kept looking at her mom for approval, and I bet they go camping together and sing church songs while baking mountain pies.

OK, the mountain pie part sounds nice. I take that back. I don’t want to envision them doing nice things. They eat baked beans out of a boot. There. Fixed it.

Then we stood there and watched as more and more people continued to appear out of nowhere, doing the whole, “Excuse me, my kid’s up there” song and dance. Like, hello. This is not how standing in line works!! I swear to god, I want to make my own theme park and have trap doors that will drop line-jumpers into an underground amusement park jail that’s actually another queue line but this one is so narrow that people can only fit in a single-file line and it has walls that go all the way up so you can catapult over or climb under. You’re stuck in a narrow AF queue that goes on forever and doesn’t even take you to a ride. It takes you to the very back of the parking lot but now the parking lot is covered in hot coals AND there’s a doctor at your car waiting to give you a colonoscopy while Baby Shark plays over the speakers in the lot.

Fucking cut in MY park, bitch I dare you.

Whatever. Still happy to be there!

Chooch barely spoke to us in this line because THE LINE WAS TOO LONG, WAH I’M SPOILED.

This part of the queue is excellent. It’s literally like being inside the movie.

I really wish JK Rowling wasn’t such a shit human.

Anyway, it was just about our turn to tell the line attendant how many dummies were in our party when I turned to continue walking and suddenly a new guy was in front of me. It had been that same family the whole time, the ones who got cut along with us, and now it was some new dad. I stopped in my tracks because he was facing me and I was startled, and then I saw that he was MOTIONING TO PEOPLE BACK FARTHER IN THE LINE TO JOIN HIM. Oh HELL NO, you bitch. I am very non-confrontational when it comes to this shit because you never fucking know what someone is capable of. I certainly don’t want to be the one getting ejected from the park and with my temper…well, this is why I struggle on the daily. But look man, I waited in that line for at least 40 minutes which isn’t that long but I was not about to get all the way to the end just to have people cut in front of me, and by the looks of it, he was inviting his entire family reunion to join him.

So, I looked at him and said, “Where did you come from.”

Just like that. WHERE. DID. YOU. COME. FROM.

I could tell he was stunned that someone had the audacity to call him out, so he didn’t say anything at first. I went on to say, “I was behind those people this whole time,” and I gestured to the family that I had forged a silent affinity with after BEING CUT TOGETHER and now it was about to happen again, I was about to get DOUBLE CUTTED.

“Oh, you can go ahead,” he said stammered, like he was DOING ME A FAVOR by letting me keep my original spot in line.

“Yeah I know, I can,” I said and marched ahead. Chooch and Henry were just like, “What….just happened” and when I turned around, sure enough, several people affiliated with this audacious asshole had cut through the line to join him. And no one said a thing.

The only thing that will prevent this from happening is having park employees stationed throughout every line but when parks can barely employ enough people to open all the food places, that is just not a viable option. Those “line jumping is cause for removal from the park” signs that I once WROTE A POEM ABOUT in high school (it was my Kennywood series lol) do not intimidate a single soul. Line jumpers gon’ line jump.

Well, at least the Harry Potter ride is worth all of this.

Again, even though this area is usually the most crowded section of both sides of the parks, it is still magical and not even the crowds in the general Hogsmeade area brought me down. I know it typically gets waaaaay more crowded than what we experienced during the summer and other holidays, but I would recommend going at the end of April like we did in 2016. It was still the most crowded sections of the park, relatively speaking, but we were nearly walking on both Escape from Gringotts and Forbidden Journey back then, AND the general area was not congested at all.

If you just can’t get enough of my AWESOME and INFORMATIVE Universal recaps, you are welcome to go back in time and read my “recaps” (I laugh because when can any of my posts be considered “recaps” when I drone on and on and on).

(Dude, I might even re-read these myself, to be honest because I EFFING MISS IT THERE SO MUCH. Like, am I considering moving to Florida? OK, maybe let’s not go that far. But I wouldn’t be mad if someone bought me a season pass for Xmas, you know?)

(Also, don’t worry! I still have one more Universal post up my sleeve. Jesus, I need a life.)

  1. Universal Studios 2016 #1

Universal Studios: Part 1 of Only God Knows

  1. Universal Studios 2016 #2

Universal Studios Part 2: About to Buy Property There 

  1. Universal Studios 2016 #3

Universal Studios 3: Can I Go Back Now?

May 042022
 

My ultimate comfort band is back with a new single / future album and I am 100% here for it.

When I say this is one of the few non-Kpop groups that gets me stoked…

JON MESS, PLEASE MARRY ME. I’ve been stanning your evil genius mind since the mid-2000s at this point, let’s go.

So many of the other bands I loved during that time have completely changed their sound, or I just outgrew them. But Dance Gavin Dance always stay true to themselves while somehow continuing to still sound fresh and new. You know what you’re going to get from them, in the best, most complimentary way possible.

Ugh, I’m so content right now.

Do you have a comfort band?? (Pretending this is LiveJournal where people used to actually comment. Just let me have this moment lol.)

May 022022
 

The main reason I was reluctant to change our spring break destination to Orlando was because I was 99.9999999% sure that Universal would be poppin’ off. I was watching all kinds of WORST TIME TO GO TO UNIVERSAL videos on YouTube and I checked all those different “crowd prediction” websites, whatever the hell they’re called, and sure enough for the week we were planning on going, Universal was in the RED ZONE. Otherwise known as the PREPARED TO STAND IN LINE ALL DAY AND HATE HUMANITY zone.

Add to this overhearing a guy in line behind us at Busch Gardens Williamsburg saying that he waited in line for VelociCoaster for 4 hours.

Four.

Hours.

Granted, he didn’t offer any additional information on this, like was it during the height of summer? Was it on opening day? Who can be sure?! But this was still enough to chill my blood.

I was lowkey dreading this day. It was, in my eyes, the most important day of the trip because we had such a great time at this park in 2016 and I have been chomping at the bit (I learned this phrase in elementary school and use it entirely too much – does anyone else even say this!? Is it time to retire it??) to go back. Plus? VelociCoaster.

And OK< Hagrid’s too.

But…VelociCoaster.

Assuming not everyone here is a coasterslut like me, VelociCoaster is a new as of 2021 Intamin multi-launch coaster built in the Jurassic World section of Universal Islands of Adventure and it has caused some sopping wet dreams across the coaster community. A lot of popular enthusiasts whose opinions I greatly trust have even gone as far as to say it’s the greatest coaster in the world, currently.

I was prepared to plant myself in a long-ass line and potentially get one lone ride on this thing, if I was lucky.

The park opens to the general public at 8am so we got there around 7:30 because we remembered that it was quite a hike from the parking garage, through security, and then through the City Walk before you even get to the park entrance.

Side note: Universal is actually split up into two separate parks which is so fucking annoying and low-key feels like a scam to be honest. Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure both have entrances that are accessed via City Walk, but if you pay the park-to-park pass, you can access both not only on the same day, but also via Hogwart’s Express. Of course the park-to-park pass costs even more money than an individual ticket for each park, because CORPORATIONS, amirite.

Oh and fun fact: if you’re going for  the Harry Potter specifically, kindly note (I spend too much time writing work emails OMG) that this land is SPLIT BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES so you need to buy admission to both parks if you want to experience all of the Harry Potter stuff.

Universal is lucky that it’s worth every penny though. I literally can’t even say it’s not.

Anyway, that being said! We lucked out because everything we wanted to accomplish on this trip was on the Islands of Adventure side: VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s, the Hulk coaster which was being refurbed when we were there in 2016, and Kong which was still being built and didn’t open until later in 2016. So woo hoo, the Tight Wads got to save some dough.

OK, so we got there around 7:30 and drove right up to an open parking booth, no giant line of cars to wait in. The guy at the booth said we were his first customer of the day, even!? Paid for parking (cheaper than Busch Gardens Tampa by $15 I think, which we’d learn the next day lol!) and got a spot in the garage with no hassle, and then proceeded to cruise right through security because Henry left his PURSE in the car.

In that picture up there, you can see how far ahead of us Henry was walking, lol. Roller Coaster Dad was on a mission!

I was almost peeing myself!! It still wasn’t quite 8am but they let us in! Like, we never had to break a stride, no additional lines to stand in!

Henry said, “I think today might not too bad—” and I nearly slapped my hand over his mouth. Like, OK Jinx Jacobs Strikes Again!

What? Am I being too niche in my references again? Did you not own this Care Bears VHS (the kind in the puffy case!) and watch it every day for a year?

It was nice not having to run, especially because there was no way I’d ever remember how to get to the Jurassic World area. However, you could see VelociCoaster from various areas en route and we were squealing! (OK, just I was).

OH MY GODDDDDDDDDDDD.

When we got to the ride entrance, it said it was only a 30 minute wait! Once we got into the line, though, it did a lot of wending and winding and we thought that there was no way this was only a 30 minute wait. No fucking way.

But when I say that this line never stops moving, I’m not lying. There is no time for kids to fuck around the railing or people to pop a squat against the wall. It is near-constant motion. And the queue is so entertaining!

In this part of the line, you can actually watch the trains go through the second launch. I was obsessed with this area! We made Janna watch videos about it when she was here for Cake Night and she was like wow and we were like NO JANNA YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS THE ACTUAL RIDE SHOOTING THRU THERE and she was like OK I GET IT YES THAT IS COOL OK THANKS.

You know you’re almost there when you reach the LOCKER area. I love that more and more rides are adopting for in-line lockers so you’re not stranded in a crowd without your phone. It was so easy too – you scan your park ticket and a free locker pops open. You just have to remember what dinosaur group your locker is in so  that when you get off the ride, you can find it on the other side. It’s a pretty seamless process. I’m sure there are people out there who still find ways to screw it up, but we had no issues. Some of the RMC coasters do this too (Steel Vengeance, Twisted Timbers) and it’s so convenient, but there are always those people who don’t listen and still try to bring in giant backpacks. The lockers are small and meant for phones, cameras, wallets, fanny packs, anything you have stuffed in your pockets.

And then you go through the metal detector and upstairs to the final waiting area before it’s time to board!!

When it was our turn, I told the line attendant that there were just two of us because the only row open was the back row, so Chooch and I were like HAHAHAHA SUCK IT HENRY until we realized that meant he got front row on the next train.

Ugh.

By 8:30am, we were riding on the VelociCoaster, what a goddamn dream.

OK, now it’s time to talk about the actual ride and you know I’m bad at this! I’m not all “Immelmann this” and “Zero G Stall” that…I barely know the names of all of the elements! That’s all Chooch. But what I can tell you is that this ride seemed to defy all logic. Like, how do these engineers know that the average human body can withstand such insanity?!

This is not the tallest or fastest coaster out there, but the launches are perfect and the layout is will you leave you breathlessly asking, “Whaaaaaa just happened?!?” when you come barreling into the brake run.

Um, this is legit. Believe the hype.

Actually, our first ride on it was the weakest. Probably because it was still so early and hadn’t had a chance to fully warm up yet (I used to think this was a myth; ’tis not) because we ended up riding it three* more times throughout the day and that bitch was fucking hauling by the afternoon. And you guys, do not even get me started on the NIGHT RIDES.

Chooch is actually on  this one here ^^^! But yeah, later in the evening, Chooch was like, “Fuck this, I’m using the single rider line” even though we never waited more than 35 minutes each time, so he actually got on before us and then got right back in line so we stood there taking pictures of every train as it came over the tophat, figuring we’d eventually get him, lol.

Honestly though. The last two rides Henry and I had were in the front row. They assign seats on this ride in order to keep the line moving but there is a separate line for the front row with a sign that warns you that the wait will be longer if you opt for that. I feel like people didn’t realize it was an option because both times when we requested front row, there were only two couples waiting in that line. And then both times it was like we broke the seal because both times when we returned to the station, the front line was so much longer, lol.

But holy shit – front row at night. I am such a back row bitch, but hold up, Rhonda – front row is where it’s at on this.

AT NIGHT.

It was hands down one of the best coaster experiences I’ve ever had and I am honestly crying a little bit as I try to parse through my memories.

Oh also! After Chooch came back from his second single-rider experience, one of his friends from school was there (it wasn’t a surprise- they knew going into this that they were both going to be at Islands of Adventure on this particular Tuesday) so they went off and rode it together and then spent the rest of the evening running amok in the park and isn’t that the dream? To be at a park THIS GREAT with a friend? Meanwhile, I was stuck with Just Henry, ugh. It was fine. We’ll talk more about that later.

This post was for VelociCoaster Things Only.

To summarize: this coaster is just as amazing as all the cargo-shorted enthusiasts will have you believe. Ops were INCREDIBLE. Theming was just right. FUN WAS OFF THE CHARTS.

Here. This guy explains it so much better than me.

May 012022
 

After we left St. Augustine two entire Fridays ago at this point, we chose Savannah as our final rest stop for the day and now you get to look at the handful of photos I took from that leg of the return trip home. Just pretend like you’re sitting in my living room as I’m clicking through the slides.

Chooch was determined to go to Georgia Peach World, having seen the signs for it after waking up in the backseat during our initial trek  to Florida earlier in the week.

So, we stopped at Georgia Peach World because What Chooch Wants, Chooch Gets.

Sike, we all wanted to stop there.

Luckily, we made it there about 30 minutes before CLOSING TIME. I was hoping for some peach pie but alas, no luck. They had pecan pies though, but I was being a pie snob and said NAY. Chooch desired a glass jar of peaches for some reason, so we got that and then Henry and I shared some peach soft serve which was actually quite delectable. BUT the girl working there was so fucking miserable that it ruined the whole experience for us and I was actually mad that I liked the ice cream.

I mentioned this in my live blog from last week, but Chooch’s jar of peaches only lasted 24 hours. Henry opened the trunk when we got to our final hotel the next night in West Virginia and the jar rolled right out and shattered in the parking lot. $10 and Chooch’s “only want” (yeah right) down the drain.

Henry allegedly booked a hotel “in” Savannah but it was actually on the outskirts and was SUPER WEIRD:


Henry kept saying, “THEYRE REMODELING” but they apparently only remodeled the lobby and then quit because everything else was shabby and neglected and there were no signs that the renovation was still in process?! The wallpaper was peeling everywhere in the hallway and our room had super strange window valances and decorative jars displayed in recessed walls?! It was very 80s which I would normally be down with but this place was strange AF.

Don’t ever let Henry book you a hotel. He’s like a travel agent trained in Hell.

The bathroom was decent though. I will give it that.

Anyway it was only about 8:30 when we checked in and I started panicking about not making the most of our time so Henry was like good lord we will go to downtown Savannah, calm down!

Chooch was like “nah I’m good fam” so he stayed back and watched, I don’t even know, King of the Hill or something, while I was miserable for the TWENTY MINUTE drove to Savannah. Henry is the worst.

We parked somewhere and then walked down to the river where there was some action.

Coulda went here but we didn’t because Henry never wants to do anything.

I remember these steps from the last time we were in Savannah! Or at least similar steps that I was sure I was going to fall down.

Nothing too notable happened while we were down there except for when some guy stopped us and asked, “wanna see something cool?” And I’m like “I want to say yes so bad but is this going to end with him whipping out his dick?”

Henry had the KEEP WALKING look in his eyes but I of course let my naïveté get the best of me and said OK!

He goes, “ok, yell ‘aye!’ real loud.”

I mean, I did it but I was also super paranoid that I was being groomed as the butt of a joke. I mean, there were people around but it was also a Friday night and many of those people were drunk so this was probably ok.

He was like “no do it louder.” So I did and he’s like “do you hear the echo?”

I did not. At this point my mind is flipping through all the scenarios where the end game is my dead body floating in the river behind us.

How do we get from Point DO YOU HEAR THE ECHO to Point BLOATED RIVER BODY? So many scenarios.

Now he’s telling us to walk outside of the little courtyard circle we’re standing in and to yell “aye” again. “Or yell anything you want, just yell something,” he said and this comforted me because I admit that I was fixating on the “aye” part. Why “aye”? Is that the magic word, when hollared at 9pm in the center of this courtyard, that permits a pirate portal to open so the ghost of Blackbeard can claim a wife?

So we did as we were told and then he had us come back to the center again and do it again AND BY GOLLY, now I could hear it! There was a distinct echo but only in the middle of the courtyard!

Now the guy and his friends were really stoked that we could hear it and he explained that it was some local phenomenon or something and I was like WOW THANKS FOR TELLING US! But then I made sure to Google “Savannah echo” afterward to verify that he wasn’t actually trying to fuck with gullible tourists and thankfully, it’s an actual local attraction.

Then we bought three rum cakes off some vendor. They were delicious.

I don’t know what any of this shit is but I thought it looked like something that tourists would take pictures of.

I made Henry cross the street so I could take his picture in a Nugent Vibes Recharging Station.

Then we went to a souvenir store because as mentioned previously, Henry is suddenly really into buying hats. I can often be found looking bored and impatient during these times.

After I was satisfied with the number of steps I had accumulated and felt that we made the most of our free Friday night time, we went back to the hotel, stopping to pick up some Taco Bell for Chooch since feeding your kids is something that parents are expected to do.

And this was what we did in Georgia.

Apr 302022
 

We eventually made it to the Fountain of Youth. Can you imagine going to St. Augustine and not checking out the Fountain of Youth!? I mean, I’m sure Henry and Chooch would not have lost any sleep over that. But I learned about this in fifth grade, therefore, I needed to see it. I am just that kind of person.

I am also the kind of person who pays admission to tour museums and other places of historical import only to lose interest somewhat immediately and proceeds to skim the informational placards in an effort to get to the end faster.

It me.

I appreciate that this signage looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1950s.

The lady at the admission booth liked my phone case! It’s my bread one from Brunch Brothers, in case Future Erin is here reading this and wondering, “Ha! Which one??” Queen of the Interesting Phone Cases.

It also me.

America’s FIRST colony!

It St. Augustine!

OK, I’ll stop with that not. I had a lot of sugar today.

I should also note that after we paid to get in, Chooch asked, “So what is this? Like, a ride or something?”

OMG that would make this place so much better, if Sally Dark Rides came in, installed some track and pretzel cars, plopped down some animatronics and jump scares….It would have been worth the $20pp!!!

We did the thing. Well, Chooch and I did. Henry was like I’M GOOD. It just tasted like an extinguished match. So you know, sulfur.

It was just us and two old ladies inside, so that was nice! I was expecting it to be packed, like we would have to stand in line just to chock back some disgusting $20 thimble of water by choice. But nope, we marched right over and helped ourselves. The old ladies didn’t even know you could drink it until they saw us and then we had to point out the cups to them. LOOK AT US, Fountain of Youth docents, basically.

Chooch always has to take a selfie with my phone before taking the phot requested of him.

And then we always get the zoomie of Henry too:

Honestly, after doing this portion, I was bored already but now we had to walk around the land and look at the artifacts or whatever.

These things seemed significant, so I took a picture to show my Internet Friends.

IT YOU.

OK for real I’m done.

Posin’ with Ponce.

Apparently, the local peacocks like to chill by the gift shop so they have feed there that you can buy and even though there are signs everywhere that say FOOD IS FOR PEACOCKS ONLY DO NOT FEED OTHER WILDLIFE, the pigeons were like, “No, the sign spelled pigeons wrong. That food is for us.” This one lady had accumulated close to 10 pigeons on her person just by holding out a hand of feed.

Here’s Chooch half-assedly fending off the pigeons.

We spent more time here than anywhere else in the whole archeological park, not surprising. At before we left, there was a healthy crowd of about 25 people hanging out, feeding the “peacocks.” Good times.

In  the gift shop, I of course bought a tiny souvenir bottle of FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH WATER and Chooch bought a puzzle of some sort – there was a lot of back and forth about said puzzle between him and Henry but I wasn’t paying attention. I’m not sure what was so special about this puzzle other than it was Noah’s Ark which was appealing to Chooch because he evidently inherited the “I love Noah’s Ark but not the BOOK it came from” gene from my mom, who had so much Noah’s Ark shit around the house when I was growing up including a MASSIVE wooden Noah’s Ark with handmade wooden pairs of animals that she collected from a store called the Hobby Horse and then our German Shepherd, Rama, started using some of the animals as chew toys so that kind of put an end to that. Man, I haven’t thought about that in so long but it was actually epic. She had it displayed in the bay window in our dining room. She must have spent thousands of dollars on that in the end because she would make trips to the Hobby Horse to pick  up whatever new animal pairs the artist had recently crafted and then I would beg for rock candy even though EW and also honey sticks, which OK those were good. They also had an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in that place. I had a love/hate relationship with it because it “so far away” (like 25 minutes probably, lol) and also my mom spent so much time there and it was essentially a cross between an antique shop and a country store, so it was dark and wooden inside with like, lots of wreaths and Americana bullshit. And like, old skillets. I dunno. It was fine.

Wow. what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, Chooch’s puzzle. So he and Henry worked out whatever the issue was (I think maybe he needed Henry to transfer money to his PARENTAL CONTROLLED debit card lol) but then Chooch was like, “Hold the phone, this box is messed up. I need to swap it out” so he went back to a new one. This is only relevant to the story because when we got home two days later, he opened the stupid thing to put it together and it was the WRONG PUZZLE – somehow a Santa’s Workshop one was in the box instead, lol.

There’s my bottle ^^^

The worst part was that after we left, we had to walk all the back to the car and I don’t know if I mentioned this or not but my feet were like blood sacks at this point?? My right foot was so fucked with bruises and my left foot had/has some METATARSAL thing happening, I don’t know if that’s true – I googled it and didn’t get very far in my research before becoming overcome with the woozies.

Henry started walking SO FAST and so far ahead of us limpers, because he was afraid of the meter running out I guess and as you know, he already earned himself a speeding ticket on this trip and was probably not trying to add a parking ticket to the collection.

Oh shit this reminds me that I forgot to tell his mom last weekend about how her perfect tree-climbing son got a speeding ticket.

Don’t worry, we made it back to the car. I think this was when we realized that Chooch’s Harry Potter chocolate frog was in the car and consequently perished because Florida.

From here, we went to Sarbez for lunch! Please read about that here. Then we drove around the St. Augustine Beach area which looked super cute and fun and I could see us potentially coming back there someday when we’re looking for a “slow vacation” and by that I mean a super fast-paced vacation with perhaps one day where we slow down and maybe dip our toes in water and read a book or something.  But just for a day. Then roller coasters.

Before venturing out of St. Augustine and Florida in general, Henry ran into The Kookaburra to grab us some iced coffees, which was funny to me since this trip made me feel a type of way about Australians and it ain’t a good way, pal.

My nails were fucked by the end of the trip. Actually, by the second day, who am I kidding. I even brought polish so I could redo them but I was so tired every time I found myself in the hotel room that this never happened.

WAIT PS PS PS!! I just realized that there is some Noah’s Ark art on the walls in the background of this picture of my brother Corey holding a very new baby Chooch at my moms house in 2006!

Enjoy.

Apr 292022
 

Henry and I went for a hike(ish) on Sunday because the weather was glorious and I needed to walk off Chooch’s birthday cake. We went to some trail in McKeesport called Dead Man’s Hollow or something and it was OK but not as dead or industrial as promised.

I’ve been watching Derry Girls (I only know one person who likes this show – an expat in South Korea who I follow on YouTube but for some reason I didn’t think I would like it based on her recommendation and yet, here I am!) so JOIN THE IRA felt relevant to me in the moment.

Still don’t fully understand that whole part of history.

But Derry Girls is fucking fantastic and I actually LOL for real numerous times in every episode which Chooch hates because everything I watch is so dumb, of course. But probably also because he wants to watch it but now can’t because I ruined it for him.

We passed a younger couple on the main trail and the girl-part of the couple said that my Marcy tattoo was adorable and asked who did it so I said ERIN HOSFIELD AT KYKLOPS and she gave me a knowing nod so I asked, “Oh, do you know her??” and she was like, “Yeah! I’m a tattoo artist too” and I meant to ask her where but A GANG OF FUCKING BICYCLYSTS came at us and edged me off the trail so than I was all distracted with trying not to die and it kind of killed the conversation so instead of continuing my new role of “functioning human exchanging logical words with another human” I awkwardly crossed back over to the other side of the trail where Henry was.

Every time I try to be normal, leave it to a fucking BICYCLIST to foil my progress.

I hate myself sometimes (a lot of the times) lol ugh.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to do with myself since there was no roller coaster station at the end of the trail. How can I made riding roller coasters job?? HELP. Something that doesn’t require me to be on YouTube, thanks.

We had a nice walk except that the trail incessantly criss-crossed over a stream and it was so fucking annoying so of course I blamed Henry and he was like HOW IS THIS MY FAULT but then on the way back, we ran into two families: one was coming down a path from a hill and had stopped abruptly because the other family was up ahead and the dad had PICKED UP A GARTER (gardner? I never knew!) SNAKE and was showing his family and the mom from the second family was basically standing on a rock, hugging herself, and screaming and the dad from Other Family was like DO YOU GUYS WANT TO TOUCH IT and the other mom was all NO WE ARE GOOD but her son was like I WANT TO

Afterward, we went to…hold please…Di’s Kornerstone Diner. Sorry, but that name is not memorable to me.

I was so proud of this shot, lol.

Fries: A (not an A+ because they weren’t “The Good Kinds” which I still, in all of the 42 years on this earth, cannot articulate what that means, but my MOUTH knows.)

Grilled cheese: A, as far as diners/family restaurants go. I like when the bread is substantial and not like they took discount Wonder Bread slices and stepped it on first.

I was pretty content with my post-hike lunch. The real testament was WHAT DO THEIR PIES TASTE LIKE but as mentioned earlier, I was walking off some rich birthday cake, PLUS we had a Sugar Spell Scoops pint pick-up later that day.

No room for pie, sadly. :(

Oh but Henry had room for cole slaw, lol.

More grilled cheese shots.

Di’s bathroom was nothing to write home about though, but it was clean!

Later that evening, after Chooch came home from work, we took some cake over to Judy’s. While there, she and Chooch started reminiscing about the games they used to play when she would babysit him.

“Remember that toy you got stuck in the tree?” she asked.

“Oh, my drone?” Chooch asked.

“Yeah! And then we called the firemen but they said they couldn’t help, and you were crying, ‘I want my daddy to get it’,” Judy said, and this seemed sus to me. Chooch crying for Henry?

Hmm….

Also, they called the fire company?!

Chooch flashed me a covert “this is news to me” look while Judy kept on talking about how “then your dad arrived and climbed that tree all the way to the top!”

Henry was sitting smug and snug on a chair, like the star of the fucking show that he is, with his mustachioed lips twisted into what I suspect was a slight smile. Meanwhile, I’m next to Chooch on the Sofa of Skepticism, wondering if this might have been your average rhododendron bush instead of a, you know, tree.

Judy went on about this for a bit longer, like she was giving a synopsis of her favorite Disney movie from the 1940s, Henry in warehouse coveralls wrenching a drone from the tallest tree in the kingdom like a sword from the stone, and I was ready to pop my top.

As soon as we left her apartment, Chooch and I opted to take the steps and I immediately blurted out THERE IS NO WAY HE CLIMBED A TREE.

“Oh I know!” Chooch agreed. “I feel like I would remember that.”

If this was drone-related, that would mean this happened about 6 years ago.

Once we reunited with Henry in the parking lot, I started pelting him with accusations.

“I can’t believe you just sat there and let your mom believe that you climbed a tree when she was clearly getting you confused with someone else,” I said, arms akimbo, foot tapping impatiently while waiting for him concede.

“I really did climb a tree, why is that so hard to believe,” he said huffily, getting into the car.

“Then why am I just finding out about this now? All these years later? I feel like if it was true, you would have told me THAT DAY. Like, GUESS WHAT I DID TODAY. I WAS A HERO. But no, you never said a word.”

“That’s because it wasn’t a big deal, OK!” Henry shouted in defense. TOO defensively, if you ask me.

“No, it just doesn’t add up,” I said, watching to make sure he didn’t rear-end any cars on the way home. He’s getting super bad at breaking for red lights these days. “Maybe if you hadn’t gone AWOL in the SERVICE, I’d buy it,” I added.

And then he did the I’M DONE HERE silent lip movement.

But don’t worry, it’s nearly a week later and I’m still poking him about it.